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2 Lessons for Seniors in Assisted Living From The Book of Ruth

Despite being only four short chapters, the Book of Ruth offers several lessons for seniors. Each rereading of this poignant book of the Old Testament reveals even more gems to help live a righteous life and give encouragement through rough times. Turn to this book this month and discuss some of what you’ve learned with one of your neighbors in our Bethesda Senior Living Communities.

Lesson #1: Loss Is Tough, No Matter Who You Are

The Book of Ruth opens with the explanation that both Ruth and Naomi have lost their husbands. In Naomi’s case, she’s suffered a triple loss: her husband and her two sons, who were married to Ruth and Orpah. This story of loss and widowhood may hit especially close to home for you or your friends in the community. The Census Bureau reports that about a quarter of people over the age of 65 have been widowed.

Naomi and Ruth show amazing grace despite their loss, but its clear from the first chapter of Ruth that they're suffering terrible hardships as a result. They even feel like they have to leave the land where they've been living and travel back to where Naomi came from. But despite that, they continue to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward with a workable plan and seeking new opportunities for their lives.

You may be feeling the burden of a similar loss, especially if it came shortly before moving into a senior living community. It’s hard to be in a new place, making new friends all over again, perhaps a distance from where you used to be. Take heart from Naomi, who restarts her life after losing her husband and children and eventually finds meaning and joy again in her new surroundings.

Lesson #2: Faithfulness and Companionship Are Important

Naomi understands where she must go to continue her life after her loss — back to the land of her birth — but she graciously gives Orpah and Ruth leave to rejoin their own people rather than continue to be bound to her as daughters-in-law. Orpah accepts and leaves, but Ruth declares “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

Ruth very much believed in the importance of remaining faithful to her mother-in-law and caring for the needs of others in addition to her own. God wants us to be in companionship with one another. We can all thrive through the relationships we form with those around us. Ruth teaches us that emphasizing the importance of faithfulness in those relationships and investing in companionship pay off for our current and future benefit.

Think about the relationships in your own life. Have you drifted away from those you were once close to? It’s never too late to reconnect, even when separated by time and distance. Write a letter to a beloved old friend today, or if you’re technically skilled, find them online. While you’re at it, invite someone new in your community to sit with you or your regular group at mealtimes and begin working to build out a new relationship as a result.

Naomi supported Ruth when they first reached her land, providing the opportunity to go work for Boaz and later to go into a relationship with Boaz. In return, Naomi regained family of her own, including the children of Ruth. Faithfulness and companionship will never fail to reward you when you look for opportunities to enrich both in your life.

Take heart from the lessons of Ruth when you’ve suffered loss and as you look for ways to expand companionship in your own life.